Published On: Sat, Sep 15th, 2012

Each One Teach One… What is Latino Heritage Month?

Sofrito For Your Soul painting by Maria Sanchez

September 15th to October 15th is Latino Heritage Month in the U.S.  The dates correspond to major events in several Latin American countries: September 15 is Independence Day for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico’s independence is September 16, Chile’s is September 18, and October 12 is celebrated as El Día de la Raza. During this time, we encourage you to take part in this celebration by sharing your experiences and the historic contributions of Latinos in the U.S. and abroad.

Hispanic Heritage Week was approved by President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period. It was enainto law on August 17, 1988 on the approval of Public Law 100-402.

“September 15 was chosen as the starting point for the celebration because it is the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. They all declared independence in 1821. In addition, Mexico, Chile and Belize celebrate their independence days on September 16, September 18, and September 21, respectively.”[1]

Hispanic Heritage Month also celebrates the long and important presence of Hispanic Americans in North America, starting with the discovery of America by Spanish conquistadors led by Christopher Columbus on October 12, 1492. A map of late 18th century North America shows this presence, from the small outpost of San Francisco founded in the desolate wilderness of Alta California in 1776, through the Spanish province of Texas with its vaqueros (cowboys), to the fortress of St. Augustine, Florida — the first continuous European settlement in North America, founded in 1565, decades before Jamestown, Virginia.

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Spanish explorers traveled further north along the Pacific Coast to Canada in 1774 and by the late 18th century had established a military post on Vancouver Island, 350 miles north of Seattle. The Spanish sailed up the Atlantic Coast through the Chesapeake Bay in 1526, then called the Bahía de Santa María, about 80 years before the romanticized English encounter with Pocahontas. In the 1520s Spanish navigators also explored as far north as Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and the present site of Bangor, Maine. The Spanish settled the future southwestern United States in the 16th century and officially founded Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1610.

As part of the Treaty of Paris (1763) peace settlement of the French and Indian War, the territories west of the Mississippi River, including Louisiana and New Orleans, were ceded to the Spanish. Nearly all of the surviving 18th century architecture of the Vieux Carré French Quarter in the latter city dates from this Spanish period.

Sofrito For Your Soul invites you to become part of our cultural revolution once again. As we begin to rebuild some of the archives that have blessed these pages over the last 15 years…we once again open the doors to hear your voz!

Sofrito For Your Soul is a reality because of people like you who contribute and help us grow. We are looking for articles, columns, short stories, music, written and spoken word poetry, video as well as all kinds of artwork to document the evolution of our culture in the United States.

If you are interested in submitting your work for publication please submit by sending your submission via email at

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Each One Teach One… What is Latino Heritage Month?